At the beginning of the summer, I rode my bike from the Lower East Side to the New York Public Library -- the research branch on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue. It was a hair-raising ride accompanied by aggressive cab drivers, city buses disgorging passengers going in all directions, and in fact vast numbers of pedestrians doing all kinds of crazy things. I kind of felt lucky to get home alive.
So I emailed the Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, to tell her the city needs more bike access to midtown. Since she was appointed to the position by Mayor Bloomberg in 2007, she's been a huge advocate for cyclists. Eventually, between responding to criticism of new bike lanes, she had a chance to get back to me with an email message that was mostly boilerplate about how many new miles of bike lanes the city has installed in the past half a decade, but concluded by acknowledging that Midtown ... needs work.
On the plus side, I recently cycled from 181st Street all the way down to West 10th Street. The last time I did that ride, there were parks along sections of the river, but between them, you had to go out into the street or through a parking lot, or you could choose between street and a dirt path a couple feet above the water.
Now, it's a wonderful, uninterrupted path from one end of Manhattan to the other. What a great ride.